The attention to personal habits in the news—and new languages of sharing everyday pressures and balancing acts—are frequently focused on questions of “coping” or “getting by” or “continuing as normal” in the time of the pandemic. This emphasis on coping and adapting is implicitly directed at those who are attached to the routines of everyday life, to the pace, velocity, and pressures of living under duress that is our world order.
At the same time, this oversharing has eroded the boundaries of the public and the private in ways that are potentially productive to feminism. The focus on intimate and everyday practices erodes the felt discontinuities between different spheres of activity, exposes the double binds that exhaust and overburden some over others, and raises a public conversation about what it feels like to live in our contemporary conjuncture.
Some have also argued that COVID-19 is useful for prefiguring the deceleration necessary to achieving sustainable and equitable futures. We are thus also in a mode of rapid adaptation to what a new world might demand of us, and how we might make that livable on different terms than the exclusive and hierarchical ones brought to us by the legacy of colonialism, imperialism, slavery, and industrial modernity. Focusing on the everyday becomes then a way of grounding our politics, our creative practices, our habits, our positions, our identities, our orientations.
What are the affects circulating in the pandemic? How can we name them? Understand the new forms of distancing and intimacy they entail? How is this naming a feminist act?
Where are certain affects coalescing? On whose bodies? With what kinds of virulence? What does feminist and queer intimacy look like under “social distancing”?
How might we grapple with the withdrawal of the “haptic” (a touch-y aesthetics) as a potential tool for feminist making?
How is a more sustainable future (one enforced by the shutdown of public spaces and institutions) lived on a daily basis? Does it feel prefigurative of a sustainable future or only threadbare?
What does the pandemic feel like? How does it reorient our lived reality? What does it exacerbate, or attenuate?